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How to Cook HUGE Steaks

How to Cook HUGE Steaks

You know the opening sequence of the Flintstones where they put the side of brontosaurus on the peddle car and it flips over? These steaks are kind of like that. 

Here are some tips and suggestions on how to cook the perfect steak.

Tomahawk:
Both beef and bison tomahawks are thick cut ribeyes with a 10-12" rib bone sticking out.  While this bone looks incredible and adds tons of flavor, they make cooking on a small surface a challenge. They work best on an outdoor grill or under the broiler.

Cowboy:
Same thick cut ribeye as the tomahawk but the bones are not nearly as long, about 3-4" max (pictured above). These are best on an outdoor grill or in a cast iron skillet.

T-Bone & Porterhouse:
These combo steaks are made up of the New York strip and filet mignon steaks, separated by, you guessed it, a "T" shaped bone running along the top and down the middle. The difference between a T-bone and a porterhouse is the width of the filet. I was taught a porterhouse isn't a porterhouse unless the filet is at least 3 fingers wide but the government says no less than .5 an inch. Everything else is a t-bone.

Filet Mignon:
It's the most tender cut of meat on the entire animal. Lean and juicy, if done right, they can be cut-with-a-fork tender. Filets are way smaller than the above cuts so cooking time to finish is drastically less. Use a meat thermometer.

Bison: 
Bison cooks faster than beef. Shave a couple mins and about 5 degrees off the off the suggestions below. Use a meat thermometer for precisioned perfection.


Proper Thawing

Leave it in it's original packaging and let sit on a plate or in a bowl in the back of your refrigerator for at least 24-36 hours, until thawed.

Need to thaw your steak quickly for day-of cooking? Place your steak into a container large enough to completely submerge the meat in water with ample room. Place the container in the sink, fill with ice then cold water. Set your faucet to a trickle and run it into the bowl so that the water is circulating and spilling over the edge. The steak should be fully thawed in 90-120 minutes.

For more in-depth info, read our series on freezing and thawing meat.

  • Season heavily; the thickness of these steaks will require a lot of salt to penetrate all the way through. Use kosher salt and apply liberally. Sprinkle all over until you think you used enough then use a little bit more.
  • Let sit out on a plate for 60 mins prior to cooking. This will allow the salt to penetrate while the steak comes to a uniform temperature throughout.
  • Save the cracked black pepper for just after you take the steak off the grill. The intense heat of the grill will cause the pepper to burn and leave a bitter flavor.
  • These rules do not apply to sous vide cooking.

Grill: Gas & Charcoal
  • For gas grills, turn all your burners on high, scrape the grill grate clean and close the lid. Pre-heat for 20-30 mins; you want the grill as hot as possible. 600F is optimal.
  • For charcoal, stack the lit charcoal on one side of the grill. Remove grill grate and scrub clean and then replace as close to the coals as you can and cover; you want the grill as hot as possible.
  • Generally speaking, surface moisture will hinder the caramelization of the proteins, thus affecting the browning of your sear. Since you generously salted your steak and let it rest, it pulled protein filled intracellular moisture to the surface that will caramelize nicely. Dry the steak well before salting.
  • When the grill can't get any hotter, turn off the burners on one side of the grill. Grease the grate using a high temp oil (veg, avocado, safflower) soaked rag or paper towel and tongs. Place the steak over the flame side and sear hard, about 3-4 mins per side. then move to the OFF side and close lid. If using a charcoal grill, move steak to the side without charcoal and cover with lid.
  • Cook through; about 7-15 mins. The timing is a suggestion; use a meat thermometer for precision. Cook to 120 for rare, 125 for mid-rare, 130 for med, and so on.
  • Remove to plate and sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper. Let rest for 20-30 mins under an aluminum foil tent. These steaks are thick and need a while to relax and reabsorb their juices.
  • Slice perpendicular to the grain and serve.


Broiler:

  • Season heavily; the thickness of these steaks will require a lot of salt to penetrate all the way through. Use kosher salt and apply generously and let sit out on a plate for 60 mins prior to cooking. This will allow the salt to penetrate while the steak comes to a uniform temperature throughout.
  • Save the cracked black pepper for just after you take the steak out of the oven. The intense heat of the broiler will cause the pepper to burn and leave a bitter flavor. 
  • Set one oven rack to the highest position, another in the middle position and set to HIGH broil.  Let heat for 10 mins.
  • Generally speaking, surface moisture will hinder the caramelization of the proteins, thus affecting the browning of your sear. Since you generously salted your steak and let it rest, it pulled protein filled intracellular moisture to the surface that will caramelize nicely. Dry the steak well before salting.
  • Place steak on an aluminum foil covered baking sheet that you don't care too much about and center under the broiler.  The heat of the broiler might distort the baking sheet.
  • Pull up a chair and sit down infront of the open oven to monitor it's progress. A broiler is pretty much and upside down grill so it won't take long to sear.  3-4 mins on each side.
  • Move the baking sheet with steak to the middle rack. Close door and set oven to Bake @ 350F and finish cooking for 5-7 mins. Time is a suggestion so check with meat thermometer for precision. Cook to 120F for rare, 125F for mid-rare, 130F for med, and so on. The residual heat from the broiler setting will help the steak along.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper. Let rest for 20-30 mins under an aluminum foil tent. These steaks are thick and need a while to relax and reabsorb their juices.
  • Slice perpendicular to the grain and serve.


Cast Iron: on stove top or grill

  • Season heavily; the thickness of these steaks will require a lot of salt to penetrate all the way through. Use coarse salt and apply generously and let sit out on a plate for 60 mins prior to cooking. This will allow the salt to penetrate while the steak comes to a uniform temperature throughout.
  • Save the cracked black pepper for just after you take the steak off the heat. The intense heat will cause the pepper to burn and leave a bitter flavor.
  • Place cast iron over heat source and preheat for 20-30 mins on low until the handle is too hot to touch. Set oven to 350F if using a stove top.
  • Gather 1 tablespoon of cold butter (keep in fridge until ready to use), a sprig of thyme,a large garlic clove and a large spoon. Set aside.
  • Generally speaking, surface moisture will hinder the caramelization of the proteins, thus affecting the browning of your sear. Since you generously salted your steak and let it rest, it pulled protein filled intracellular moisture to the surface that will caramelize nicely. Dry the steak well before salting.
  • Turn heat to high and add a high temp oil (veg, avocado, safflower) to form a thin but solid sheet on the bottom of the pan and gently add the steak, laying it down away from you to avoid burning oil kisses.
  • Sear hard for 3-4 mins per side.
  • Remove from direct heat by moving to the off side of the grill or to the middle rack in the oven. Cook for 3-4 mins until internal temp reaches 120F for rare, 125F for mid-rare, 130F for med, and so on.
  • Remove skillet from heat source and move the steak to the far side of the skillet opposite the handle. Immediately add the cold butter, thyme and garlic. Let the butter go crazy for a few seconds and then, with the towel covered handle facing towards you, tilt the skillet so the butter pools at the bottom but the steak stays on the other side. Spoon the juices over the steak continuously for 1-2 mins, until the butter stops foaming. As former Top Chef judge and all around good guy Hugh Acheson says, this will make life worth living.
  • Remove from the skillet and sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper.  Let rest for 20-30 mins under an aluminum foil tent. These steaks are thick and need a while to relax and reabsorb their juices.
  • Slice perpendicular to the grain and serve.

Sous Vide: "under-pressure"

  • Preheat a cast iron or grill to scary hot. As close as you can get to 600F without drawing a lot of attention.
  • Fill your container with water and set you immersion circulator to 55C. Best container is an insulated cooler, then a large plastic container. I do not recommend using a large stock pot as the metal will conduct the heat right out of the water and make your circulator have to work harder than it needs to. Covering the container to also helps with heat loss and makes a huge difference.
  • Sear your steak, unsalted, for 90 seconds on each side. The meat will cook for so long in the water bath that salt added prior to bathing will start to cure it. 
  • If using a vacuum sealer, add your seared steak to the bag along with a tablespoon of good, grass fed butter. Be careful with bone, if sealed too hard, they can puncture the bag. Wrap the exposed bone with parchment paper prior to sealing to help protect the bag.
  • If you don't have a vacuum sealer, you can use a large ziplock bag. Place your seared steak and the tablespoon of butter into the bag and with the bag unsealed, slowly lower it down into the vessel until the water pushes all of the air out. Seal the bag before fully dropping it into the water.
  • Clip bag to the side of the container so it doesn't swirl around with the water. Get creative.
  • Cook your steak for 3-5 hours, depending on the thickness. Cowboys and Tomahawks will need closer to 5.
  • Lower the heat to 50C and cook for another 40 mins. This will allow the internal portion of the meat to a lower temperature in a controlled environment to protect against over cooking in the reverse searing step.
  • At this point you can move onto reverse searing if you are ready to eat or you can do all of the above in advance and store in the fridge until you are ready to sear and serve.
  • Heat your cast iron or grill back up to crazy hot.
  • Salt the hell out of your steak then sear again for 60 seconds on each side. You'll need to add enough salt to flavor each bite of steak. Since you are not cooking it for very long after salting, you'll need a saltier than usual surface to balance out the flavor.
  • It is very important to get your cooking surface as hot as you can so it takes a minimal amount of time to properly sear the outside, without cooking the inside.
  • Sprinkle liberally with fresh cracked black pepper and let rest for 10 mins then serve. 

Okay, great. You've got your perfectly cooked steak, what else?  I suggest simple and in large quantities.  

  • Take a walk around the farmer's market and pick out some large, hearty and seasonal veggies.  What ever looks good to you.  Onions, carrots, summer squash, tomatoes, corn (if it's there) and even grapes all do really well cooked whole on a grill;  first on, last off.  Get em nice and charred then quarter and place on a platter for the table.
  • Lighten up the herbed butter technique by combining equal parts finely chopped herbs and good olive oil and place in the fridge over night or as long as you possibly can.  The herbed oil will solidify and become butter-like in consistency.  Place a small spoonful on top of the steak just prior to serving.  Parsley, chives, thyme, rosemary and oregano do well.  Do several different kinds but one herb per container please.
  • Do you like beer? Hoppy single IPA's and pale ales pair with these rich steaks, especially the buttery ones.  Wine you say?  A deep Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon will stand up to the robustness.  Has raising you made him like something a little stronger?  Irish Whiskeys tread in-between sweet bourbons and peaty scotch.  If you can find it, I highly recommend Green Spot Single Pot Still Whiskey.